Book Review

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

A Professional Drama Queen Goes in Search for Her Mother in Emma Lord's 'When You Get the Chance'

Maria Chance
Dec 30th, 2021 12:37 am

In Emma Lord’s When You Get the Chance, Millie Price just got into a prestigious pre-college that will help her achieve her dreams of becoming a Broadway star. However, her father is refusing to let her go. So what does a kid do when one parent says no? They go ask the other.

The problem is that Millie doesn’t have any idea who her mother is. She was raised by her father and her aunt with little to no information about the woman who carried her and brought her to life. So the most natural course of action, to Millie, is to go find her mother, thus catapulting a Mamma Mia-themed narrative.

Digging through her father’s old LiveJournal from 2003, Millie pieces together some clues that lead her to three potential candidates. Millie sets off to befriend them, to get to know them, and to subsequently figure out which one is her mother.

Things become complicated when she applies for an internship with New York’s best talent agent, where, Steph, one of her prospective mothers, works. Though she plans to use the internship to get to know Steph better, she could also use the money to help pay for pre-college. However, she must now compete for the position against, Oliver, her sworn nemesis with whom she may have an undefined love/hate relationship.

Though the themes of When You Get the Chance can be heavy, Lord handles them with trained delicacy. In Millie Price, she’s created a protagonist who is defiant and driven—and even a little bit of a drama queen--but fun and a delight to watch as she moves steadfastly towards her goals. But she’s also vulnerable--her vulnerabilities portrayed in how she deals when clashing with her father, the one parent that's been present for her always.

When You Get the Chance touches on themes of family--what it means to be wanted and how Millie moves forward with chasing her dreams and living her fullest life without letting her mother’s abandonment become an obstacle. It also teaches us that, often, we have exactly what we need and we’re exactly where we need to be. Millie eventually comes to this conclusion, but not without first unnecessarily entangling many threads.

Lord has crafted a fun, lighthearted story that will charm the hearts of audiences across diverse age groups. It's exactly the kind of warm read necessary to get through this long winter.

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About the reviewer

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Maria Chance
  • Freelance Developmental Editor
  • Book Reviewer & Editor

A self-proclaimed hermit and potential cat hoarder, Maria lives in Virginia where she writes, proofreads and copy edits as a freelancer. Her longstanding love affair with books began when her mother would fall asleep reading bedtime stories to her. (Don't worry; she was sure to wake her up so she could finish.) Now, as an adult, Maria struggles with a reading vice that has often threatened the hygiene of her home. On the few occasions that her nose isn't buried in a book, she enjoys exploring new cities, having margaritas with her sister, and curling up with a book--wait, what?